The Academic and Student Affairs building under construction on Old Turner Street at the north end of Virginia Tech’s main campus has been renamed Lavery Hall in honor of the university’s 12th president.
William E. Lavery, who died in 2009, “is credited with alleviating classroom, laboratory, and office space; introducing a university core curriculum; expanding library holdings and degree programs; and attracting an undergraduate population with increasing academic standards,” according to the naming resolution approved by the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors at its recent quarterly meeting.
Other notable achievements during Lavery’s tenure as president from January 1975 through December 1987 include the establishment of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, and entering the ranks of the nation’s top 50 research universities.
“President Lavery made a lasting impact on this institution, and he was beloved by the students," said current Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. "It is fitting that this building, which will be heavily used by students, will be an enduring tribute to his legacy.”
Lavery earned a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University, a master’s of public administration from George Washington University, and a Ph.D. in extension administration from the University of Wisconsin.
He joined Virginia Tech’s faculty in 1966 as director of administration for the Extension division, having previously worked for the federal Extension Service. In 1968, Lavery became Virginia Tech’s vice president of finance. He was named executive vice president in 1973, and in 1974 was appointed president, effective Jan. 1, of the following year.
After stepping down from the presidency, Lavery served as honorary chancellor and then as the William B. Preston Professor of International Affairs. He retired in 1991, and in 1993 was presented with the university’s highest honor, the William H. Ruffner Medal.
Lavery supplemented his professional contributions to the university with philanthropic ones. He was a member of the university’s most prestigious donor society, the Ut Prosim Society, as well as the John N. Dalton Society in the veterinary college. In 1995, the college dedicated the William E. Lavery Animal Health Research Center in his honor.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.